CVS Settles Hazardous Waste Suit

Environmental Litigation

In a settlement reached in mid-April, CVS Pharmacy Inc. (CVS) agreed to pay almost $14 million to settle claims that it improperly stored and disposed of hazardous waste at its drugstores in California. 

In a suit brought in Ventura County Superior Court, prosecutors representing 45 cities and counties across California, alleged that CVS violated California’s Hazardous Waste Control Law (HWCL) (commencing at Health and Safety Code sections 25100 et seq.) and other laws through its improper storage and disposal of various medical, pharmaceutical and photographic waste.  California’s HWCL is California’s state counterpart to the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  HWCL has a broad impact and regulates hazardous waste from cradle (generation) to grave (disposal).  In addition to the monetary payment, the settlement agreement also requires CVS to properly store, dispose and record hazardous waste in the future and train its employees regarding these requirements.   

Continue reading →

Going Verde: Mexico Passes Climate Change Law

Climate Change

 Last week, Mexico’s Senate passed a rather ambitious climate change law. And it did so with a 78 to 0 vote – something not seen too often in our country! This makes our neighbors to the south only the second nation in the world (the United Kingdom is the other) and the first developing country, to pass such legislation.

Continue reading →

Parties Can Toll CEQA Statute of Limitations

Environmental Litigation

Last week, in Salmon Protection and Watershed Network v. County of Marin, the California Court of Appeals found that a public agency and a party disputing the adequacy of an environmental impact report (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) can enter into a tolling agreement to toll or suspend the CEQA statute of limitations. 

Petitioner SPAWN sought to challenge under CEQA the County of Marin’s general plan update on the grounds that the EIR’s cumulative impacts analysis was inadequate.  Generally, there is a short statute of limitations for challenging a public agency’s actions under CEQA.  Under California Public Resources Code section 21167, a petitioner only has 30 days from the date of the public agency’s filing of a notice of determination to challenge an EIR on the grounds that it does not comply with CEQA.  In an attempt to negotiate a pre-filing settlement, SPAWN and the County entered into a series of tolling agreements extending this 30-day limitation period.  However, when a settlement could not be reached, SPAWN brought its CEQA petition.

Continue reading →

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN: EPA RELEASES 17TH ANNUAL U.S. GHG INVENTORY REPORT

Climate Change

Just as we did last year at this time, we are pleased to bring you the results of the 17th annual U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And… drum roll please… we here at GREENberg bLAWg (along with pretty much everyone else that reported on the topic) correctly predicted that along with economic recovery (which we seem to be inching toward) would come an increase in overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the previously reported year – a 3.2% increase from 2009 to 2010, to be exact. 

Continue reading →

Second Appellate District Approves Use of Projected Future Baseline to Measure Environmental Impacts in L.A. Light Rail Case

Environmental Litigation

On Tuesday, the Second District Court of Appeal issued its decision in Neighbors for Smart Rail v. Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority, ruling that a lead agency’s use of projected future conditions to measure the environmental impacts that a long-term infrastructure project will have on traffic and air quality did not violate the California Environmental Quality Act  (CEQA).  The court’s decision places it in fundamental disagreement with the rulings of the Sixth District and Fifth District Court of Appeals, which have each held that lead agencies are required by CEQA to evaluate project impacts against actual existing environmental conditions, and that agencies do not have the discretion to solely assess project impacts against future conditions expected to exist at the time a project will come into operation.  Although the decision is positive news for the many public agencies that historically engaged in this type of impact analysis to assess traffic and air quality impacts for long-term projects, the defensibility of CEQA documents that solely rely on projected future baselines will remain uncertain until the California Supreme Court takes the issue up for review.

Continue reading →

Guaranteeing California’s Renewable Energy Small Business Future

Clean Technology

In late February, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) (in collaboration with State Controller John Chiang) introduced California Senate Bill 1465.  The legislation would seek to provide credit support for small renewable energy and agricultural businesses in the form of loan guarantees.  By doing so, the bill hopes to “facilitate export expansion” and promote job retention and growth in these sectors.

I think we are all well aware of the recession that has gripped the country as a whole and many states – California included.  One of the many negative impacts of the economic climate has been the inability of small businesses to secure much-needed financing.  This is particularly true for emerging small businesses like those in the renewable energy sector.  That is where SB 1465 hopes to come in. 

Continue reading →

Does Your City Make the Energy Star Cut?

Green Building

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released today the annual list of metropolitan cities with the most Energy Star certified buildings for 2011.  To earn EPA’s Energy Star, commercial buildings must perform in the top 25 percent of similar buildings nationwide and must be independently verified by a licensed professional engineer or a registered architect. 

EPA first released the list in 2008.  For the third year in a row, Los Angeles topped the annual list.  Washington D.C. and Atlanta rounded out the top three.  California had the most cities in the top 25, with six cities – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego and San Jose. 

Continue reading →

Sackett v. EPA – Supreme Court Allows Pre-Enforcement Review of Clean Water Act Compliance Orders

Environmental Litigation

On March 21st, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Sackett family has a right to challenge a pre-enforcement compliance order from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)before EPA initiates a formal enforcement action in Sackett v. EPA.

The Sacketts own about a half-acre vacant parcel of land in Idaho.  In early 2007, they filled the parcel with dirt and rock in preparation for building a house.  Later that year, EPA issued an administrative compliance order against the Sacketts alleging that the parcel of land is a wetland subject to the Clean Water Act (CWA) and that the Sacketts violated the CWA by filling in the land without obtaining a permit.  EPA ordered the Sacketts to return the land to its former condition or face over $30,000 in penalties per day for failure to comply.

Continue reading →